Gus­tavo de Aris­tegui, Am­bas­sador of Spain

Spain, which has a long mar­itime his­tory, takes enor­mous pride in its ships. On the eve of the visit of the Span­ish Ar­mada ship Cantabria in Goa soon, the Span­ish Em­bassy in In­dia and also a sub­stan­tial num­ber of Spa­niards here are ‘emo­tional’ and ‘ex­cite


SP’s M.A.I. (SP’s): Can you elab­o­rate on the ob­jec­tives and sen­ti­ments be­hind the ar­rival of the Span­ish Ar­mada Cantabria? Am­bas­sador Gus­tavo de Aris­tegui (Am­bas­sador): We are proud of this. It is the first time in the his­tory of our bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship a ship is com­ing to an In­dian port. The visit of Cantabria, the huge sail­ing school ship for naval of­fi­cers is an emo­tional mo­ment for us. We have a beau­ti­ful pro­to­col as we have the old­est Ma­rine Corps in the world and all the tra­di­tion is there. Our naval of­fi­cers are the finest and they have been de­ployed with the Royal Aus­tralian Navy for al­most a year.

It is an es­sen­tial ship for mod­ern naval war­fare and it also has 25bed hos­pi­tal, ICU and den­tal clinic. It is one of those multi-pur­pose ships in con­cept. We have cre­ated newer ver­sion of long he­li­copter deck (LHD) and it is a Span­ish in­ven­tion of land­ing plat­form dock (LPD) and an air­craft car­rier. The Royal Aus­tralian Navy has re­ceived two of th­ese ships. In the In­dian con­fig­u­ra­tion of the ships it will be a long he­li­copter deck. It is ef­fec­tive in com­bat, sub­ma­rine war­fare, res­cue etc. The ship is con­ceived as a pro­jec­tion of am­phibi­ous war­fare. It has a dock in the stern of the ship that has ca­pac­ity to launch six as­sault boats with ca­pac­ity for dozens of troops in each of them. Once the ship nears a beach, the back of the ship opens and six fast at­tack boats can be launched. It is state-of-the-art and has many com­mand and con­trol sys­tems wherein thou­sands of troops can be con­trolled on sea. It can also con­trol air traf­fic hun­dreds of miles of the ship. It has the most ad­vanced pod pro­pel­ler sys­tem.

A 30,000-tonne ship ac­tu­ally ma­noeu­vres like a small ferry. Ev­ery­thing that com­mands the ship is above the floata­tion line which is again a nov­elty. It can trans­port 5,000 peo­ple. It can be used in hu­man­i­tar­ian relief work such as the earth­quake in Haiti. The ship can go to the coast and be trans­formed as a relief cen­tre... it can have war tanks, trucks with hu­man­i­tar­ian aid. This is the most ver­sa­tile war­ship in the world right now. SP’s: What all Spain can of­fer to have a strong base of part­ner­ship in In­dia for the global mar­ket? Am­bas­sador: It is very com­pli­men­tary. I see great op­por­tu­nity in the emerg­ing mar­kets. When I see In­dia it is not just great op­por­tu­nity but great op­por­tu­nity for mean­ing­ful and solid part­ner­ship. Why? Be­cause In­dia is known for in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty and like Spain it is de­voted to high tech­nol­ogy, engineering, avant-garde so­lu­tions, re­search and de­vel­op­ment, in­fra­struc­ture, tourism, and de­fence.

In de­fence, we have so­phis­ti­cated sys­tem of mul­ti­di­men­sional elec­tronic and radar mul­ti­linked sys­tems. Our coast­line is highly pro­tected. We have the 13th largest coast­line (7,800 km of coast­line as penin­sula) as we have so many is­lands. This makes us a mar­itime na­tion. So is In­dia which is be­tween two oceans and you are in a com­pli­cated neigh­bour­hood. It is not an easy neigh­bour­hood. Spain is good at thwart­ing ter­ror threats, or­gan­ised crime, il­le­gal traf­fick­ing etc. Our sys­tems are quite im­pres­sive and we are go­ing to in­vite In­dian of­fi­cials to visit coastal de­fence sys­tems. Our sys­tems such as radars, mo­tion de­tec­tors, in­frared cam­eras, CCTV cam­eras and all com­bined gives us a pic­ture of what is hap­pen­ing up to 16 kilo­me­tres into sea. It is ex­tremely ef­fec­tive in search and res­cue op­er­a­tions and re­sponse time is much faster.

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